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Barbecue Secrets

Recipe of the week: Grilled Frogs' Legs with Proscuitto Pantaloons

Aug 5, 2010

While browsing the big T&T Asian supermarket in Vancouver a few weeks ago I was intrigued by some frozen frogs’ legs in the fish department.  They’re a popular dish in Cantonese home cooking, where they’re spiced and stir-fried on the bone. They’re also big in France, of course, as well as Italy, Spain, Greece, the Caribbean and even in the Southern U.S., where they are breaded and deep fried.

The ones I saw, which I think were farmed in Vietnam, were inexpensive – four pairs of legs for about five bucks – and despite their cartoonish (some might say macabre) appearance, they also looked plump and juicy and perfect for the grill.

I marched a squad of them home, cooked them up and they turned out great. To me they tasted like a cross between halibut and crab, with a texture like a chicken wing, but much more tender. Really delicious! I shared them with my barbecue teammate Tom Masterson and on a lark we agreed that we should enter them in the chef’s choice category at the National BBQ Championships in Whistler. After some brainstorming, we decided to give them a funny little twist, wrapping their bottoms with prosciutto to protect their modesty and add some great flavour.

But what to name the dish? We’ve had lots of suggestions from friends and other teammates: Rub it and Ribbit, Kermit Gets Porked, Bacon N’ Legs, and Green Legs and Ham. But I like the sound of Prosciutto Pantaloons.

Give this recipe a try and, whatever you call it, I think you’ll find it hoppin’ good eatin’.

Photo by Click Media Works. Used with permission. 

Grilled Frogs Legs with Prosciutto Pantaloons

8 pairs of skinless frogs’ legs

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp granulated onion

1 tsp granulated garlic

pinch cayenne pepper

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

half cup extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

4 thin slices of Italian prosciutto (buy extra in case the slices rip as you’re wrapping the frogs’ legs)

8 tooth picks

Lemon wedges and fresh dill for garnish


Soak the toothpicks in water.

Place the frogs’ legs in a large baking dish like a lasagna pan. Combine the salt, granulated onion and garlic, cayenne and chopped rosemary and sprinkle the rub on both sides of the legs. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mustard and lemon juice to make a simple vinaigrette. Add half of the vinaigrette to the pan and toss the frogs’ legs around so that the ingredients combine and the legs are nicely coated in the marinade. Reserve the other half of the vinaigrette.

Marinate the frogs’ legs for about 15 minutes, turning them once or twice.

Cut the prosciutto into 1-inch strips. Take a strip of prosciutto and wrap it neatly around the waist of the frogs’ legs to make the pantaloons. Use a toothpick to fasten the prosciutto to the legs.

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and make sure you scrape the cooking grates. Drizzle a little extra olive oil on the frogs’ legs and place them on the grill.

Cover the grill, turn the heat down to medium, and cook the frogs’ legs for about two or three minutes, until they come away easily from the cooking grate and have nice grill marks. Turn the legs and cook for another two or three minutes. Continue grilling and turning until the thighs are springy to the touch and the meat loses its pink, translucent appearance (just like a chicken breast turns white when you cook it).

Take the frogs’ legs off the grill, remove the toothpicks and place on a platter garnished with fronds of fresh dill and lemon wedges. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve.  For extra fun, we presented them at the BBQ championship on a place mat that looked like a stylized lily pad. And, you know, although some of the judges were a bit shocked and reluctant when they first saw them, they loved them and our Grilled Frogs’ Legs with Proscuitto Pantaloons ended up 24th out of 40 or so entries. Not bad for such an unconventional dish!